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Composition in White

Composition in White

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“I have no hesitation in stating that S.J. Litherland is one of the finest poets I have come across in recent years. I admired and loved this collection for its skilful detail and the sense of time and place which is endearing, evocative and enriching. Litherland engages the reader’s senses on every level through her vivid description and her passion for her material. At times the language is expansive and at other times it is economical, but each word feels carefully chosen to fit like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. This book could serve as a masterclass in poetry.”

Graham Hardie, London Grip Poetry Review 


“This is a poem (Springtime of the Nations) which resonates off the page addressing the reader with clarity and leaving echoes of historical reconstruction which can be felt in our NOW. As Jo Colley states on the back cover of this fine collection of poems Litherland’s poet’s eye is ‘as diamond sharp and unsentimental as ever’.”

Ian Brinton, Tears in the Fence website


“…splendidly enthusiastic poems about the English landscape, especially Warwickshire, and about cricket, especially Ian Bell. Litherland is sophisticated, resourceful and imaginative in exploring  those things which matter to her, amounting to a spiritual steer (‘message’ would be the wrong word) as powerful as it is deft…Perhaps one of the things which makes the poetry spiritual ­– whether or not this is poet’s conscious intention – is the ability to hold the moment. In ‘The Secret Book of England’ Litherland offers a metaphorical description of invoking the English landscape, a pictorial record taking shape through the power of thought. We enjoy the long moment…”

 Dilys Wood, Artemis


 “Litherland armours each poem with a carefully chosen form, but the abstract painterly quality of the book is expressed most in block-shaped poems that hang on the page as if in a poetry gallery. Their syntax is normal, sentences read from left to right and down the page, yet the static quality is arresting… Stationary moments are staged throughout, as much emblematic as photographic… in carving stone, Litherland has packed her poems with feeling… blooms brilliantly.”


Claire Crowther, Poetry London.



At the start of her ninth decade, S.J. Litherland traces the red threads running through her long life, back to a Warwickshire childhood spent in country lanes and air raid shelters, and before that the ghosts of the Levellers and Diggers, the 1848 ‘Springtime of the Nations’ and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, whose frail free spirit was famously celebrated in Malevich’s Composition in White. Her seventh collection is also a secret book of England, cricket and Morris dancing, Brummie aunts and Bohemian artists, and the long shadow of the war years, a state of the nation archive of a life-long socialist. What seems essential is to keep the pages open, so what is lost, or on the verge of being lost, is not forgotten.